My darling girl,
Happy Birthday – 3 years old today! Not that you know it yet. We’re saving the celebrations until Saturday, when Daddy gets home from Birmingham. I don’t think you’ll notice. Or mind. You certainly didn’t last year.
I wanted to let you know how incredible we think you are. This year has been hard on you. Since your last birthday you’ve had to deal with a new brother, a new house, new friends, and a Mummy with depression. There was definitely a time when you lost your spark. That beautiful, inexplicable joy that makes you who you are. You’ve struggled, and that’s ok. We all have. It’s been a hard twelve months. But you have done so well. Amazingly well. And I look at you now, so grown up and beautiful and full of mischief and I know that I have my little girl back. Older, wiser and a little bit less naive. But back, and bonkers. I love it.
There are so many things that I love about you. Your imagination being one of them. There are times when I wish I wasn’t called to your bed in the middle of the night to sort out “teenagers on your pillow” or “pebbles with teeth”. Sometimes even you can’t control it. But in the daytime, it is the source of endless joy. To hear you playing, or be invited to take part in your latest imaginary scenario is an indescribable privilege. Every character has a back story, and every tale you’ve ever heard makes its way back into your games. Yesterday you spent the day carrying around a beaker of squash, which you called ‘baby Clara’. You even pushed it down the road in your buggy. I wish I could record everything you say, just for one day. In twenty years time you’ll be, to use your own word, “astonished.”
You are so determined to be your own person. I love that. There’s no changing your mind once you’ve made a decision. Except, occasionally, if we offer you sweets. You’re fairly powerless against that tactic. But for the most part you set your course and you steer it by yourself, regardless of anyone else’s opinion. Or health and safety. At the moment, the only place you want to read your books is perched on top of the cupboard, having climbed up on your Duplo box to get there. This afternoon, on the roundabout in town, you moved from the motorbike to the pirate ship to the bus. While the ride was moving. In spite of the shouts from me, and the lady in charge.
You’re unstoppable. I really hope that lasts. That you’ll be strong enough to resist the temptations of peer pressure when you get older.
I love your exuberance. There’s no other word for it. The part of you that throws off all your clothes as soon as you see a paddling pool. Wherever you are. That sticks two fingers up at social norms and runs around with no shoes on. Just like your Daddy.
I could watch you dance all day; the joy on your face as you give in to the music – be it real or in your head – and spin around like a whirlwind. Nothing makes me happier than to see you running in the park or in the garden. Singing and throwing your arms around. That’s what makes you really come alive.
That and your drawing. When you grow up, you want to be an artist. You’re in with a good shout. As our eldest, you’re our measuring stick – if you’re drawing fully fledged people, with hair and crowns and outfits and shoes and handbags, holding hands and driving buses, then we assume it’s normal. Turns out it’s not. You’re exceptional. We’re saving every drawing you do. We joke that it’s our retirement plan, and that we’ll auction them all off when you’re a famous artist. Really, we want to show you how much we value your skills and your passions. One day we’ll show you the boxes of childhood drawings sitting in the loft. And hopefully you’ll realise that we’re behind you. Every step of the way. Whatever your dreams.
You are a dreamer. That’s for sure. You’d happily spend all day with your head in a book, creating new stories for the characters that you know and love. Your brain wanders off to some incredible places, and always comes back with questions…”why do whales float?,” “why can’t I see God?,” “how will I discover if there is no world?” I’ve had to resort to Google more than once. Who knew our eyebrows were designed to keep the rain out of our eyes! You keep us on our toes, all day everyday. It’s exhausting, but it’s wonderful. When I was pregnant with you, I told Grandma that I didn’t want a boring baby – I wanted someone with character. You are that. And more. Several times a day I just stand back and look at you – amazed by the amount of character and wisdom and humour packed into your little three year old face.
You have a gorgeous face. Stunning. People stop me in the street to tell me how beautiful you are. I hope you know that. I plan to tell you every day. I know people say that I shouldn’t talk about it. That I should pretend the whole beauty thing doesn’t exist. But clearly, it already exists for you. So we’ll take it one step at a time, together.
Because you are beautiful. Inside and out. And I’m so proud to be your mama.
Happy birthday baby girl.